Every season, restaurant Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel & Tower pulls off the astounding task of completely and utterly morphing its menu. It essentially becomes an entirely new restaurant, with precision poured into every intricate detail of the menu concept, from physical layout of the menus to table settings, wine pairings, plating, ingredients, and so much more. For its winter iteration, Sixteen embraces Chicago history.
Chicago is a metropolis rich in history and pastimes, making it the ideal inspiration for a meticulous menu. With so much lore to draw upon, Sixteen does our fair city justice by presenting an elaborate degustation celebrating important moments from Chicago's past. Ever wondered what the Great Chicago Fire would taste like as part of a tasting menu? Always wanted to use a Ferris Wheel as a serving vessel? Now you can! It's all courtesy of executive chef Thomas Lents, the man behind the magic involved in transforming Sixteen's menu from season to season, grasping inspiration by the horns and embracing it fully.
The menus for Sixteen's winter format are presented as the Chicago Transit Authority L system map, the perfect way to guide diners on a journey through Chicago history, from the inception of the city through its growth and into the golden age. It all begins with a Ferris Wheel laden with snacks inspired by items served at the Columbian Exposition's Midway, apropos considering that's where the Ferris Wheel was first introduced to the world. The degustation progresses with an homage to Native American settlers via venison, squash, corn, and beans.
Next, the menu explores the developments of railroads, canals, and waterways by serving up beef tartare and iced oysters reminiscent of those carried on refrigerated rail cars. Eels make an appearance as a nod to the Mississippi River canals, responsible for introducing such fish and seafood to the city. Even the reversal of the Chicago River is represented, with a dish of vacuum-cooked pike in carrot consomme.
Other dishes served throughout the menu include those reflective of neighborhood ethnic roots, such as Western European, Eastern European, African, and Hispanic; a grilled beef heart homage to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle; and roasted venison immersed in ash to recall the Great Chicago Fire.
A 10-course tasting menu costs $150 per person and a 20-courser goes for $210 per person, a small price to pay for the opportunity to essentially eat Chicago history in one sitting.